Winter On A Budget

Posted on Wednesday 19 November 2014

Winter on a budget

With snow coating the ground and winter’s icy grip taking hold, how do you plan to keep warm this winter? Heating your home in the Canadian winter can be expensive, particularly in unusually harsh winters like 2013-14.

Luckily there are ways to cut back on your heating and eating bill without getting frostbite, and this article will teach you a few of them.

Quick Fixes

Turning up the thermostat is expensive, but wearing layers is cheap, so put on a sweater or two. Dress strategically, and focus on two key areas. Your head is one big area of heat loss, so throw on a wooly hat. It might feel strange to wear a hat indoors, but it will really make a difference in keeping you toasty.

Second, make sure that your feet are well wrapped up. You don’t actually lose much body heat through your feet, but feet are very sensitive to cold.

A pair of thick socks will make the cold much more comfortable. Wear layers to bed as well. Socks, a stocking cap and some lined pajamas will keep you snug, and with all those blankets you can turn down the thermostat even more for bigger savings. For extra night-time warmth, try an electric mattress heater. You could even take a tip from your grandparents and invest in a hot water bottle. To take things to the next level, start working out indoors too.

Exploit natural heat sources, too. During the day, open the curtains or blinds on the sunny side of the house for free solar heat, and close them on the dark side to prevent heat escaping. Curtains make great insulators and windows are a huge area of heat loss, so close them all up at night to trap heat.

Investment and Maintenance

Quick fixes are great if you want to feel a bit warmer, but with some time and effort, you can turn your home into a winter palace. It doesn’t even have to cost much, although remember that investment in the short term can lead to long term savings. Before the winter sets in, there are two things that you should check.

First, take a look at your furnace filter. A clogged furnace filter will make your heating less efficient, burning more fuel for the same temperature. Installing a fresh filter takes very little effort and can cut your heating bill dramatically.

Second, check the air flow in your house. If air can get in and out, you will burn a lot of fuel heating the air outside your house. Check the seal of all of your doors and windows by holding some tissue paper up to the closure. If it moves, air is moving. Seal up the cracks with weather sealant tape, and use draught snakes or rolled-up towels to cover the gap between door and floor.

Third, take a look at the insulation in your attic. Look for any bare patches or holes in the insulation. Filling in gaps will be more expensive than weathering tape, but very much worth it. Once your insulation is in good shape, there are some bigger projects that can save you money on your winter heating.

If you have a room in your home that you don’t use, you can seal it off and leave it unheated. Close up any heating vents in that room, and then seal the room as well as possible.

Consider installing a programmable thermostat. They can be bought cheaply, and they can save you a lot of money on your heating. Use them to turn down the heat when you are asleep or out of the house. You can do all of this with a manual thermostat too, but machines never forget to turn the heat down.

Finally, larger winterizing and insulation projects don’t necessarily have to be paid for out of your own pocket. Schemes vary from province to province, but provincial governments often offer grants for adding better insulation to your home and tax-free rebates for other energy efficiency improvements. Do some research and see what the government can do for you this winter.